September 29, 2021 | 00h00
COVID or not COVID, pandemic or not pandemic, today the whole city of Argao celebrates the solemnity of the annual feast in honor of our patron saint, Saint Michael the Archangel. Argao is famous for its torta, the most delicious cake in the world, and the equally tasty sikwate from its native cocoa trees. It has beautiful beaches and the people are warm, friendly and peace-loving.
Argao is also famous for having produced Argawanon’s greatest lawyer, Hilario Gilbolingo Davide Jr., of Colawin, chief justice, former member of the Batasang Pambansa Assembly, delegate to the 1973 Constitutional Convention, commissioner of the Commission Constitution of 1987, Commission on President of Elections and Extraordinary Ambassador Plenipotentiary to the United Nations. Davide is a Magsaysay Laureate for Public Service while his brother, Dr Romulo Davide, is also a Magsaysay Laureate. They come from the remote mountain village of Colawin, near the western border with Ronda.
Argao is located approximately 67 kilometers or 42 miles south of Cebu City. It is bordered to the north by the town of Sibonga and to the south by the town of Dalaguete, to the west by the towns of Ronda, Alcantara and Moalboal, and to the east by the Strait of Cebu facing the island province of Bohol . Argao is home to the famous clans of the Kintanars, Luceros, Alcazarens, Albarracins, Ortegas, Gilbolingos, Almirantes and, of course, Birondos. My late mother was a Birondo whose ancestors settled in Tulic, a barangay near the poblacion. There was a time when Argao was famous for weaving blankets and mosquito nets. My great-grandmother, an Aballe married to a Sarmiento, made it with my late grandmother and my own mother.
I was born in the small maternity hospital next to the old municipal building on St. Joseph’s Day in 1950 and was immediately baptized in one of the oldest churches in the Philippines. Our ancestral house is still located today in Suba, a small sitio in the poblacion, a few meters from the church and the municipio. It belongs to my cousin, the daughter of my mother’s younger brother. I like to remember my few childhood years in Argao in the early 1960s when I was able to study in the old St. Michael’s Academy, then located in Looc, a few meters south of the parish church. Today the school has moved close to our ancestral home.
The first governor of Cebu was from Argao, Julio Aballe Llorente, from 1899 to 1901. The 17th governor, Francisco Emilio Famor Remotigue, from 1961 to 1963 was from Argao, although he was born and raised in Ronda . Today, the deputy of the 2nd district is from Argao, Willy Caminero. Former members of Congress like Juan Alcazaren, Agustin Kintanar and Isidro Kintanar, as well as Simeon L. Kintanar were all from Argao. Secretary Cerge Remonde was also from this town.
Without this pandemic, I would have returned to where I was born to light a candle for Saint Michael and honor my ancestors in the old cemetery of Looc. I miss my loved ones too and can’t wait to eat torta with sikwate with the people I really love in the house that I have missed all these years. Anyway, happy birthday to all Argawanons. Long live SeÃ±or San Miguel.